I started fishing with my daddy when I was a little girl. He fished in tournaments, so I have always been around the sport. I got my first boat when I was sixteen, and when I sold it I still fished in ponds or from the bank. I have two daughters, sixteen-year-old Savanna and twelve-year-old Audrey. When they were younger, finding time for myself was almost impossible. They were involved in softball, cheerleading, twirling, etc. Now that they’re getting older and it’s not softball season, I have more time to fish. I have a pond in my neighborhood that I enjoy fishing in. Earlier this year, my neighbor asked me if I would like to fish in a tournament. That was my first time to fish in a tournament, and I absolutely loved everything about it.
After that event, I bought my own boat and now I fish at least three times a week. I still like to fish tournaments and I feel like I learn something new every time. I love how challenging it is finding fish, figuring out what bait is going to get their attention, and trying to catch them. Catching fish is not guaranteed. Most of the time the conditions are miserable, but I don’t care, I’m still fishing. I have always fished on Caddo, but recently I have ventured out and fished at Lake Fork, Toledo Bend, and Lake O’ the Pines. The thought of catching bass in deep water, 30plus feet, was crazy to me, but now I can’t get enough of it. Some days I might catch twenty, and the next day I might not catch any. There are so many factors that affect the fish, and even though it frustrates me at times, fishing has taught me to be patient. It is my therapy.
I am also an avid bow hunter. In 2012, I started bow hunting deer and turkeys in Missouri and have hunted every year until November 2016. I have taken four deer, three turkeys, and one squirrel down with my bow. Until November 2016, bow hunting was my main passion, but I was no longer able to hunt the property in Missouri. It was right in the middle of deer season, and I was kind of going crazy not being able to hunt. My brother, Cole Hughes, invited me to go on a duck hunt in Jones, LA. I never hunted the Mississippi Delta before, so I was shocked to see so many ducks and geese. I had a few friends invite me to go on duck hunts, but it never really worked out, so I started hog hunting with my brother.
When we hog hunt, we do not use any guns, only dogs and knives. Hog hunting was fun, but then the heat got to me and I wanted to fish. I enjoy shooting in 3D archery tournaments as well. During spring turkey season, you can only hunt until 1:00 pm, so I usually go fishing until dark. After turkey season, the deer usually start to drop their antlers, so then it’s time to shed hunt and prepare for the next deer season. I love duck hunting and I hunt opening day of dove season. I love doing any activity outdoors.
I started hunting when I met my husband, Lee, over 12 years ago. He was always either getting ready for hunting season or he was hunting. Lee has such a strong passion for the outdoors and hunting that I knew I had to start liking it or move along. I always considered myself a “hunters widow” during the season because he was always gone. My friends called me crazy because I allowed him to be gone all the time, but who was I to tell him that he needed to stay home? Why would I want to take something he was so passionate about away from him?
I knew when we got married that this was my new life. I would go with him maybe once a season, but it was not my thing…. at all! I was not raised in a hunting family, nor did I have any desire to hunt. All of that changed once my first son was born, five years ago. My husband was ecstatic that he had a son he could share his love of the outdoors with and pass along all his knowledge that he learned from his own father. So I decided if I was going to be a part of something they loved, I had to love it too. That began my hunting journey. And I’ll say, after having children (now two boys) I LOVE going to sit on a deer stand and listening to the peace and quiet. It makes you stop and focus on the beauty around you that God created.
Our oldest son, Wilson, goes hunting with us sometimes and this year we are hoping he will get his first deer! I cannot wait to share that moment with him! Wilson and Whitley get so excited when we come get them to head in to the woods to pull our deer out. I leave the skinning to the boys, but I cook every bit of meat from our deer.
For me, hunting as a family is so important. We spend quality time together, we are teaching our boys to appreciate the outdoors, and hopefully they will teach their children as Lee learned from his dad and uncle.